Friday, January 11, 2008

You're as Young as You Feel

Hey, my mom sent it to me. She's 70+ and allowed to be a little raunchy.

George Carlin Classic

Brewers Sign Cameron

It's being reported that the Milwaukee Brewers have signed outfielder Mike Cameron to a one-year deal with an option for 2009.

I hope they're not paying him too much.

Cameron brings a few positives. He's a former Gold Glover in centerfield and will be a marked improvement over Bill Hall. And, he does have some pop and RBI ability. His arrival will move Ryan Braun to leftfield, where he will have less chance to flash the metal glove.

On the other hand, he will be missing the first 25 games of the year ... games that would be important in learning to play with his teammates. As they say, those games in April and May are just as important as later in the year.

Also, Cameron does strikeout a bit ... not something the Brewers need to add.

Hall has shown he can play 3B in the past, though he's is not quite the upgrade I'm sure the Brewers had in mind. Apparently talks for Hank Blalock and other 3B fell through, I'm betting because management thinks Capuano will show up in 2008.

Could be, could be.

I'm concerned, too, the Brewers have added another right-handed bat. A lefty would have been better, especially since Geoff Jenkins has moved onto other pastures.

UPDATE: Cameron gets a $1.25 million signing bonus and $5 million next season. Milwaukee has a $10 million option for 2009, with a $750,000 buyout.

In addition, Cameron can earn $750,000 annually in performance bonuses. He would get the full amount for 475 plate appearances next year and for 575 in 2009.

Cameron also receives a limited no-trade clause.

Well, I guess that's not too bad, though in BRASS money, Cameron would be a stud.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Is this an inside joke?

Ok, so the annual Hall of Fame voting just took place and, yet again, I am left in disbelief. Sure, we can talk about many players who have not yet made the Hall of Fame, but I'm here to speak of only one...Dale Murphy.

Already I've been met with a "how about Rob Deer" comment. But, seriously, does anyone even remember the 1980's and Dale Murphy?

The brief version of my disgust is do you leave a player who won back to back NL MVP awards, hit 30 HR or more in 6 different seasons, hit 20HR or more in 12 straight seasons, won 5 straight Gold Gloves, went to 7 All-Star games, is a member of the 30-30 club, played in 162 games in 4 straight seasons, and played 18 seasons...posing the only offensive threat in the Braves lineup in virtually every one.

With this list of players registering even a single vote, Dale Murphy should be in the HoF ten times over:
Rod Beck
Travis Fryman
Robb Nen
Shawon Dunston
Chuck Finley
David Justice
Chuck Knoblauch
Todd Stottlemyre

Heck, some of those guys don't even know how to spell.

The Hall has to do a better job of reflecting the times. The game was different in the 80's...remember the 82 Cardinals? Dale Murphy excelled like few others and DEFINITELY deserves a place in the Hall of Fame.

BRASS Early Draft Preview

I won't put the players in a rankable order, per se. After all, I have to draft against you goombahs myself! But the draft does seem deep in non-AM talent. I'll leave the evaluation of the AM crop to another.

Top of the Heap

Chase Headley
Ian Kennedy
Yunel Escobar
Droobs Cabrera
Mark Reynolds

Two sure-fire starting 3b at the top, two fine middle infielders and a much discussed pitching prospect. Droobs profiles to be an eventual 1 with the glove. Does that put him at the top? Yunel has already shown that he candle the bat in the Bigs and play a commendable SS. Ian Kennedy should make a fine #3 starter for the Twins...Mark Reynolds might have the most power among draftable carded players. And Headley gets on base and is a switch hitter. Who goes first out of this bunch will probably come down to club preference.

The Next Bunch

Steven Pearce
Chin Lung Hu
Jason Maxwell

There are others amongst the groups below I'd put ahead of this bunch, but they all are intriguing options in their own right. Like Droobs, Hu can pick it. SOM gave him a 2 already at SS based on his limited 2007 work at the MLB-level. Pearce is short, but can hit. RH Brian Giles, anyone? Maybe. Justin Maxwell looks like a deer with those long legs of his. If he can become a proficient hitter, mainly get on base, he should have a decent career.

Need a Backstop?

JR Towles
Geovany Soto
Jesus Flores

As a Brewer fan I will refrain comment on Soto. I watched Towles play against the Crew late in the season and he didn't look out of place. Flores? All I know is what I've read. Could have a nice power bat/arm combo. I think the first two go in the first round, with Flores snared in the second.

Or How about a Pitcher?

Manny Parra
Garrett Olson
Jair Jurrjens
Andy Sonnastine
Kyle Kendrick
Bill Buckner

Buckner is the only one on this list who appears to have to sparkle in spring training for a roster spot on the Snakes, although Garrett Olson will probably be back in AAA even though as a proponent of the "Earl Weaver School of Pitcher Development" I think putting him in the pen would be a sound idea. But obviously, the O's ain't listening to me. The Brewers may, nigh should, look to have Parra fill the same role Carlos Villanueva did last season. The other three all should be in their respective team's rotations.

Just Made It!

Ross Detwiler

Hey, hey! On the virtue of one inning pitched Detwiler rockets to importance in the BRASS draft- especially now that only three AM slots will be available. Plus, rumor has it he's good. Hard throwing lefties with command don't exactly grow on trees.

We Throw Hard

Juan Gutierrez
Felipe Paulino
Andrew Brown

Power relievers are always a nice resource to tap and these three can bring it. Paulino may even start in the gutted Stros rotation.

The Alexi Casilla Divsion

Emilio Bonifacio
Eugenio Velez

Speed, triples, defense, I assume? Look for Challenger management to be awkwardly eyeing one of these two in the second round.

General Reliever Mish-mash

Joe Thatcher
Brian Wolfe
Jensen Lewis
Joe Smith
Matt Lindstrom
Chris Schroeder
and a cast of hundreds...

"Why buy in free agency what you can overdraft a year in advance," I say? But in all honesty, Lewis looks like a real keeper. He might be the only one here that sniffs the first round.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Misers slighted!!

Alright.. who posted the "Who will win Brass poll" and forgot to include the Misers?

Revisiting Dawson

Thanks to Paul Noonan at Electric Commentary who has directed me to another site with the odd name Fire Joe Morgan (just guessing there is some slight animosity ... hopefully not with Joe's playing career). A contributor who goes by the name of Ken Tremendous (a spectacular name, btw) disagrees with another over Andre Dawson's Hall of Fame credentials. As his disagreement therefore becomes a disagreement with my thoughts on Dawson's eligibility, I thought I would showcase some of his arguments and discuss.

Mr. Tremendous disagrees with the argument that Dawson should be in the HOF because his numbers are comparable to others who have been elected like Kirby Puckett, Tony Perez, Ryne Sandberg and Gary Carter.

I happen to agree that comparing numbers is not always an adequate measure of a player's performance, but they do provide starting points for consideration. Tremendous says this:

Tony Perez shouldn't be in the Hall. Gary Carter is arguable, but he's a catcher. Ozzie Smith is in for defense and one memorable home run in the postseason. So, yes, you are indeed comparing apples to oranges. The closest actual comparison is Puckett, but Puckett's injury was non-baseball-related, which makes it a special circumstance.
I agree Perez shouldn't be in the Hall, and I agree that special dispensation be given to Carter because he was a catcher... blah blah. But I have an issue with the special circumstances that hurried Puckett's induction (and don't go nuts on me ... I loved Kirby Puckett).

Anyway, forgive me if I don't cry a river. While it is true that injuries are a part of the game and have sidetracked any number of promising careers, Dawson continued to play at a high level on knees that would eventually need to be replaced. His career was not sidetracked, he played through the pain and continued to put up HOF qualifying numbers. In fact, his slugging percentage was higher than Puckett's.

From 1977 to 1992, Dawson's 162-game average was:

Despite playing on knees that would have felled a lesser man, Dawson continued to put together consistently good seasons for horrible clubs, including one season that saw him win the MVP though playing for a last place team. When was the last time that happened?

Additionally, he played half those 16 years on a rock-hard surface that accelerated the deterioration of his knees and STILL won eight Gold Gloves. Mr. Tremendous downplays the fielding awards, but Dawson's peers and sportswriters don't. They understand the importance of defense. Dawson stood above the rest during that 16-year stretch.

With respect to Mr. Tremendous' opinion, Dawson deserves enshrinement.

Monday, January 07, 2008

A Travesty

It is a travesty that Andre Dawson has not been elected to the Hall of Fame. The man had some monster seasons, a career that spanned 21 years and he won eight Gold Gloves. As a fantasy manager who always tries to build the best defensive team possible, this is most impressive. Here is a fine article by Dan Le Batard of the Miami Herald regarding Dawson's candidacy.

Knee surgeries? ''Had 12,'' Andre Dawson says in that stoic way of his.

Does that count the number of times you needed the swollen knees drained?

A laugh.

''No,'' he says.

How many times did you have those knees drained?

"On average?''


"At the end of every spring training. That was good for about three months. And after every surgery. About three times a year, maybe more.''

How many years?

Another laugh.

"Every year.''

Every year of your 21-year career?

"Pretty much.''

What does that feel like?

''The small needle or the big one?'' he says.

Never mind.

Dawson is a proud man of uncommon strength, but he finally had one of his knees replaced last year. It is the worst pain he has ever known, making him go through the three-week Percocet prescription in 10 awful days.

''I literally cried for three days,'' he says.

The other knee?

It will need to be replaced soon, too.

''A painful career,'' he says.

Would he do anything differently?

''No,'' he says. ``Not at all.''

He belongs in the Hall of Fame, but he is not yet in.

Voters want more.

''The managers and trainers and doctors and players know what I went through,'' he says. ``If they were voting, I'd get in fairly easily.''

Even in the inflated age of steroids, bloated with swollen numbers, Dawson's statistics flex and demand immortality. Thirty-fifth in homers. Thirty-second in RBI. Forty-fifth in hits. Ever. In our most historic game. And all the more impressive when you see the stained names of Sammy Sosa and Gary Sheffield and Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro and Jose Canseco ahead of him in home runs.

Dawson's 438 homers are more than Joe DiMaggio or Johnny Bench or Al Kaline or Duke Snider.

Dawson's 1,591 RBI are more than Rogers Hornsby or Harmon Killebrew or Tris Speaker or Willie McCovey.

Dawson's 2,774 hits are more than Lou Gehrig or Ted Williams or Joe Morgan.

What makes him proudest?

''My longevity,'' he says.

All-around player? He won eight Gold Gloves. He is one of six men with 300 homers and 300 stolen bases -- on a short list that includes golden names such as Willie Mays and Barry Bonds. He is an eight-time All-Star. There are eight or nine right fielders in the Hall of Fame who don't have his résumé.

Read the rest here.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Cream City Gearing Up for 2008 Season

Cream City and Montgomery County

Cream City trades Josh Willingham, Willy Taveras, John Patterson, Jorge De la Rosa, Kyle Davies and its 2009 1st to Montgomery County for A.J. Burnett, Francisco Cordero, Pat Burrell, and Cory Sullivan ... all current salaries for 2007 to be paid by former teams.

Cream City adds an ace caliber pitcher in A.J. Burnett, with injury issues and a relatively high salary (for a pitcher with injury issues) and a top closer in Cordero at a decent price to its 2008 bullpen. The Pirate pitching staff looks tough for next year (see next trade). Burrell and Sullivan cost the Pirates nothing and are one-year PA fillers only. Meanwhile, Montgomery County gains a full-time left fielder in Willingham, who also has shown good patience at the plate, a speedy centerfielder in Taveras who also provides excellent defensive range and arm, and some hopes ... hopes that Patterson will bounce back from surgery and that De la Rosa and Davies will figure out how to pitch. But they're cheap, so it's a good roll of the dice and they will provide IPs next year.

Cream City and Belfast

Cream City trades Jose Capellan, Neal Cotts and Cream City's 2009 2nd to Belfast for Billy Wagner.

Cream City adds a powerful left-handed component to its 2008 bullpen. Wagner fills out a strong bullpen that consists of Francisco Cordero, Jose Valverde, Jeremy Accardo, Justin Speier and Kyle Farnsworth. Belfast gains some young potential. Will Capellan ever stick around long enough to show what he has, will the transition of Cotts to starter work and will the 2nd round pick yield anything? Who knows, that's baseball. But, Wagner was going to be gone after next year and at least Belfast has something to hopefully bank on.

San Jose Again and Again

San Jose is at it again. Two more trades to report ... one in December and another more recent one in January.

San Jose and Southtown

San Jose trades Vernon Wells and $700,000 to Southtown for Brendan Harris, Kevin Correia and Southtown's 2009 2nd.

Southtown making a bid for the playoffs and beyond (?) with this acquisition of Vernon Wells. Wells' defense and power should help the Misers lineup. Brendan Harris is a decent pickup for 2008 shortstop, but his defense is not that strong, nor are there many TB chances on his card. There are worse choices though. San Jose probably figured it would have a tough time matching any bids for restricted free agent Wells, though his lackluster 2007 campaign should lower his price. Kevin Correia will provide some average relief and starter IPs. Nice swingman.

San Jose and Diamond

San Jose trades Kevin Slowey, Humberto Sanchez, San Jose's 2008 1st and Cream City's 2008 1st for Josh Hamilton and Diamonds 2008 2nd and 5th.

San Jose must have a lot of faith in Hamilton staying healthy and having a good year (and staying sober which we all hope happens). Plus, Cream City's #1 will be the number one or two pick in the draft and San Jose's will be top ten. That's a lot to give up. Sanchez was once considered as high as Zumaya ... he's an intriguing thought if he has recovered from elbow-ligament surgery.

I *Hart* Corey

By Mark Lentz (Twin City Challengers)

I’m a Brewer fan. A BIG Brewer fan. Much to my wife’s chagrin I watch most every game each year. Corey Hart’s range rating of a 3 in RF in the upcoming SOM set has stuck in my craw. Before I proceed, let me preface my remarks that this is not some anti-HAL, SOM rant. I know the range ratings can cause some overly serious griping. This is just me pleading my case for a guy I like a lot, ala my hopes for Bert “Be Home” Blyleven and the Hall.

Corey Hart received a 3 in right field. By comparison, Sports Illustrated pretty boy Jeff “Frenchy” Francouer received a 1 in right. I will grant that Frenchy */may/* be a better RF than Corey…but I will not grant */two/* ratings better.

Here are the stats I bring to the argument:

For the just completed season, Jeff Francouer played 1440 innings in right field for the Atlanta Braves. Corey Hart, on the other hand, split his 1096 defensive innings between right (864) and center (232) for my Brewers.

According to Win Shares statistics supplied on The Hardball Times website, Frenchy was credited with 5.5 win shares for his defensive play and Hart 3.9 shares for his performance. Broken down on a per nine inning basis you get the following:

Jeff Francouer *0.34* defensive win shares per 9 innings

Corey Hart *0.32* defensive win shares per 9 innings

I’m no math major, but the difference of two hundreths of a point has to be fairly inconsequential, no?

I feel these numbers are further strengthened by the fact that win shares do take in the fact that Corey played center field a little over 20% of the time. I don’t need to preach to this choir that center field is harder to play than right.

Still not convinced? Consider the following statistics:

John Dewan introduced the Plus/Minus fielding analysis system in his book /The Fielding Bible/. Someone can correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe it is quite possibly the most rigorous attempt at objective fielding analysis ever attempted. I will allow Mr. Dewan to sum up the Plus/Minus system:

A/ “player gets credit (a "plus" number) if he makes a play that at least one other player at his position missed during the season, and he loses credit (a "minus" number) if he misses a play that at least one player made. The size of the credit is directly related to how often players make the play. Each play is looked at individually, and a score is given for each play. Sum up all the plays for each player at his position and you get his total plus/minus for the season.”/

For 2007, Jeff Francouer was credited with making 10 more plays in right field that other right fielders would not have made. This is an impressive number. Frenchy is no slouch in right, to be sure. His plus/minus number ranks him seventh amongst all right fielders. Pretty good, but Corey Hart is just plain better, objectively speaking. In almost 600 less innings in right field Hart made *THREE* more plays! Compared to the Win Share difference displayed above, this is a notable difference.

Once again, on a per nine inning basis:

Jeff Francouer *0.063* plays made per 9 innings
Corey Hart *0.135 *plays made per 9 innings

That math *IS* significant. Corey’s rate is *DOUBLE* that of Frenchy’s!You want to argue that Frenchy has a cannon for an arm? I grant you that. But when it comes to running down batted balls in right field in Major League parks, the very definition of range, very few are better at it than Corey Hart.

San Jose Launches Into a Trading Frenzy

The San Jose Scorpions, under the leadership of new owner David Silverberg, completely remade its roster in December. Below is a list of players and other items San Jose received and sent away.

San Jose and Green Bay Yoopers

San Jose trades Fausto Carmona, Chad Cordero, Akinori Otsuka, Kevin Millar, Nick Punto and San Jose's 2008 4th to Green Bay for Carlos Pena, Mike Lamb, Joel Peralta, Kevin Slowey.

San Jose trades a top number two pitcher in Carmona (great next year), a couple of utility players in Punto and Millar and relief pitchers to wild-card contending Green Bay for Carlos Pena (big bat next year), Mike Lamb (useful PAs and good platoon potential at three positions), Joel Peralta (middle reliever with 80+ innings) and Kevin Slowey (a young pitcher with potential).

Both teams looking to next year with the exchange Pena and Carmona.

San Jose and Cream City

San Jose traded Carlos Villanueva to Cream City for Troy Patton and Cream City's 2009 3rd.

Cream City bolsters its pitching staff for next year with swingman Villanueva. Troy Patton, a lefty out of the Astros farm chain is considered a potential #3/4 starter as San Jose continues to build for the future.

San Jose and Olympia

San Jose traded Tom Gordon, Carlos Silva, Rudy Seanez and Great Kills 2008 2nd to Olympia for Barry Zito, Jacoby Ellsbury and Ron Villone.

San Jose receives that lefty starter they have been looking for in Zito, plus an exciting young prospect in Ellsbury. Olympia receives some ancient innings from Tommy Gordon, though they should help if Olympia is making a run for a wild card berth. Silva provides some awful 2007 innings and slighty better help in 2008. Seanez and Villone are washes, though Seanez provides some ok 2008 numbers.

San Jose and Montgomery County

San Jose traded Scott Baker and Chris Ianetta to Montgomery County for Chris Snyder, Randy Wolf, Andrew Brown, Chuck Lofgren and $2.2M.

San Jose grabs another lefty starter in Randy Wolf, the question being whether he will rebound successfully from December arm surgry. Chris Ianetta was a disappointment in Colrado and will be a quick hook if he does not start hitting. Consequently, picking up the improving Snyder is not a bad idea, though his status remains backup. Scott Baker has some potential though his fast ball is a bit straight. He might make a #5 starter. Lofgren has potential, but not for a couple years.

Smoltz Traded to Montreal for Mike Pelfrey

December trades saw some bolstering of playoff hopes and some serious revamping for the 2008-09 season.

The Montreal Sunsets added a veteran arm to their staff with the addition of John Smoltz. Smoltz was on the final year of a $4.84M B-2 contract, so Dayton management decided to try to get what they could and received hot prospect Mike Pelfrey, plus a 2nd and fifth round draft pick.

It remains to be seen whether Dayton, which is in the middle of the Silver League wild card hunt, will be hurt with the subtraction of Smoltz from its rotation. The addition of Smoltz to a Montreal rotation that already included Tom Glavine, Bret Myers, Johan Santana and Carlos Zambrano gives Montreal a leg up in the battle for Silver League supremacy.

December BRASS


The Plainsfield Hitmen and the Diamond Gems are running away with their respective divisions and about the only left for those two teams is to determine which team will have home field advantage through the playoffs.

Kevin Kolb's Hitmen are running hot on all cylinders. Matt Holliday is having a terrific MVP-type season. He's only crushing the ball at a .361 clip, has 74 extra base hits and is among the league leaders in runs scored and RBIs.

Meanwhile, the Gems of Vaughn Nuest are led by their spindly left fielder, Alfonso Soriano. Soriano has not only stolen 47 bases, but leads the Gold League with 39 homers and 110 RBIs. Josh Johnson paces their staff with a 17-1 mark.

The Steel Division still has a race with the New York Giants (59-53) but one game ahead of the Green Bay Yoopers. New York is led by Miquel Cabrera (.381 BA), while Green Bay's fourth-rated pitching staff is keeping it in the race.

The wild card contestants are still up in the air with six teams still very much in the picture. Next month we'll provide a closer look at the their chances.


Each of the three Silver League divisional races are pretty much sewed up. It appear that Daniel Valois' Montreal Sunsets are cruising to another Iron Division title. Their 76-36 mark puts them 17 games ahead of Southtown. Montreal is once again being led by Travis Hafner whose 117 RBIs lead BRASS.

The Zinc division, home of the last two BRASS champions looks to have a new champ this year. Both Cream City (last year's BRASS champion) and Buckeye (previous year BRASS champ) have fallen on hard times. The East Lyme Crush of Dave Berks appear to be in the driver's seat with their 73-39 mark and 23 game lead over second place Buckeye. Carlos Beltran and Nick Markakis have proven to be a dynamic duo leading the Crush offense.

Mike Swanson's Duluth-Superior squad is on track to win its second consecutive title with a 73-39 record and 14 game lead over the Phoenix Phoenix. Albert Pujols (103 RBIs), Justin Morneau (93 RBIs) and Alex Rodriguez have been a formidable 1-2-3 punch.

Five teams are still in the hunt for the wild card. Their final month;s chances will be covered next month.

Fantasy Baseball

I've decided to take this blog in a new direction. A happier direction.

My favorite hobby is fantasy baseball. I am in three leagues ... one of which is the basic rotisserie variety in which players accumulate points based on their statistics. For example, two points for a double, three points for a triple, etc. At the end of the regular season, the team whose players have accumulated the most points wins the title. The members of this league are mostly old, old friends of mine and the league require very little maintenance during the year.

The other two leagues I am a member of were created by Vaughn Nuest and a few friends of his back in the late 1980s. I was fortunate to be invited to join the BRASS (Bloomington Rotisserie and Strat-O-Matic Society) in the year 2000 and last year the beloved Cream City Pirates won the title.

BRASS is an entirely different experience than regular rotisserie fantasy baseball. First, BRASS utilizes the grandfather of all fantasy baseball simulation games, Strat-o-Matic. Hal Richman drew up his first Strat-O-Matic player cards in 1948, at age 11, and turned it into a business by age 25. Essentially, the performance of every individual player from a previous season is number crunched. Game are played one at bat at a time, with results garnered by shaking multiple dice and then looking at either batter or pitcher cards. Not only are hitting and pitching results recorded, but defense ratings, run and steal ratings, catcher arms, outfield arms ... even the ability to hold a runner on base. The game truly is a remarkable recreation of our national past time.

I'm hoping this will turn into a blog where members of the leagues I'm in can submit columns or simply comment about stuff I write. It will also be a place where the I, as news editor for the BRASS League will place the monthly updates.

Some remodeling of the site has already begun ... removal of blogs I formerly linked to, and the addition of many new links.